Local banks compete intensely

By Don Mecoy Modified: October 27, 2008 at 11:08 am •  Published: November 27, 2007
Banker Joey Root employs an unusual method to recruit customers to his fledgling First Liberty Bank in northwest Oklahoma City. He's going door to door.

Root, First Liberty's chief executive officer, and his executives walked the residential streets nearest his office to compete in a spirited bank market.

"We figured it was a good way to show people that we really want to be a part of the community, and we're going to come out and ask for your business and ask you to come in and see us,” Root said. "If we got just a few good customers and got some good word of mouth, that's all we're hoping for.”

Root launched his bank in the midst of a sea of competitors. Across the street is a Bank of Oklahoma branch. Every half-mile or so north or south is another rival — Bank of America, BancFirst, Sooner State Bank.

"They're all good banks. We're going to have to work hard to get their business,” Root said.

Oklahoma and its largest metropolitan areas are highly competitive banking markets, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. statistics show. Oklahoma had the fifth-lowest concentration in its banking market in 2004, the FDIC said.

The state's largest bank, Bank of Oklahoma, controls just more than 11 percent of deposits, and the five biggest institutions manage about one-third of all deposits. By contrast, the five largest banks in Texas hold more than half of all deposits. In Arizona, the three largest banks control nearly two-thirds of state deposits.

Even if the three largest banks in Oklahoma City were merged into a single mega-bank that controlled more than 36 percent of metro's deposits, the FDIC would consider the area to be only "moderately concentrated.” Statewide, a merger of nine of the top 10 banks, omitting the state's largest, Bank of Oklahoma, would create a "moderately concentrated” market.

Brad Swickey, chief executive officer of Valliance Bank, Oklahoma City's second-youngest bank, said the fragmented marketplace requires that smaller banks must find and exploit a niche.

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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